Fears rise for civilian safety as Ukraine investigates locked air raid shelters

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Civilian safety concerns grew Saturday in Ukraine, as officials said an inspection found nearly a quarter of the country’s air-raid shelters were locked or unusable, just days after the death of a woman in Kiev who allegedly waited outside a closed shelter during a barrage of Russian missiles.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said through its press service on Saturday that of the ‘more than 4,800’ shelters it had inspected, 252 were locked and 893 others were ‘unfit for use’. .

On the same day, the Kiev regional prosecutor’s office reported that four people had been arrested in connection with a criminal investigation into the death of the 33-year-old on Thursday outside the locked shelter. Prosecutors said one person, a security guard who failed to unlock the doors, remained under arrest, while three others, including a local official, were placed under house arrest.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the suspects face up to eight years in prison for official negligence resulting in the death of a person.

Also on Saturday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said city authorities had received “more than a thousand” complaints about locked, dilapidated or inadequate air-raid shelters within a day of the launch of a online feedback service.

In a Telegram update, Klitschko reported that “nearly half” of the complaints were about locked facilities, while about a quarter were about their poor condition. Some 250 Kyiv residents wrote to complain about the lack of nearby shelters.

The Interior Ministry said more than 5,300 volunteers, including emergency workers, police and local officials, would continue to inspect shelters across Ukraine.

Russia launched a pre-dawn missile barrage on the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, killing a 9-year-old girl, her mother and another woman, in what was the highest toll of a single attack on Kiev in course of the last month. A 33-year-old woman died as she and others waited to enter a locked shelter, which left the group at the mercy of falling missile fragments, her husband told Ukrainian media.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian regional officials reported on Saturday morning that Russian shelling had killed at least four civilians across the country in the past 24 hours. A 67-year-old man died in the early hours of Saturday as Russian forces bombarded the northeastern Kharkiv region with mortars, local governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram. According to Syniehubov, two other civilians were killed on Friday and overnight, while six others, including a 3-year-old boy, were injured.

In the southern front region of Kherson, two boys aged 10 and 13 were hospitalized with ‘serious’ injuries after an explosive device detonated in a village playground on Saturday, the governor reported regional Oleksandr Prokudin. Prokudin also said five other people, including two children, were injured by Russian shelling the day before.

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